Punt Return Problems Continue

Bobby Wade and Rashied Davis traded places to start Sunday's game 19-7 Bears win over the Green Bay Packers, then they traded again.

Instead of Bobby Wade fumbling and being replaced by Rashied Davis -- like had occurred the previous game in a 13-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Davis started at punt returner, mishandled two punts and then Wade replaced him.

"That's a big part of what I do," Davis said. "A punt returner can't be dropping the ball and playing punt return. It's just something I have to work on, go back on."

Davis muffed his second attempt of the game on a 40-yard punt by B.J. Sander to the Bears' 27. However, Charles Tillman recovered the ball.

In the third quarter, Sander punted 50 yards to the Bears' 29 and Davis muffed it again. He recovered his own muff, but that was the end of his punt return duties.

"I haven't done it in a while," Davis said. "It's all new to me again this year."

Wade made a 15-yard return along the sidelines when called upon. Wade empathized with Davis' plight, saying the 10-mph wind and 24-degree temperatures made conditions difficult. However, he said the low sun wasn't a problem.

"It just lets you know how tough it is for anybody to be back there," Wade said. "The biggest thing, though, is still trying to maintain that possession."

Wade wasn't surprised to get a chance again. He simply said experience taught him to be prepared mentally.

"I think being a guy who, it's not your first time around the block, you've got to stay ready, you've got to stay focused and stay ready," Wade said. "Not only that, but (special teams) coach (Dave) Toub let me know to stay focused and into it because he mentioned to me beforehand that you never know how it's going to go."

Although Wade has nine fumbles this season, the majority of them have come after he's caught the ball as opposed to trying to field a punt.

"One thing Bobby has been able to do is catch the football," Smith said. "He's bobbled one really this year. But besides that, he's caught the ball well and we felt like we just needed somebody to be able to catch the football first (Sunday) and he was able to come in and do that for us."

Wade still ranks fourth in the NFL with an average of 10.0 yards per return.

Head of the Class
There are only four teams that haven't given up 200 points on the season. The Bears have a wide margin between them and the next closest competitor when it comes to points allowed. Chicago has surrendered 127 points, Indianapolis (162), Carolina (194) and Tampa Bay (199).

League wide the defense is fifth in turnovers (27), tied for fourth in sacks (37) and tied for second in interceptions (18).

Even though the pass defense fell from 1st to 2nd, the unit is tops in the NFL in several categories: fewest passing touchdowns (7), yards per catch (9.9), fewest plays over 20 yards (22) and first downs (111).

Chicago's 49 yards passing against Green Bay allowed the Packers pass defense to move up six spots and claim the No. 1 ranking.

Health Beat
RB Cedric Benson (sprained right knee) could return to practice today and be active on Sunday for the first time in four weeks.

FS Chris Harris will likely miss the matchup with Pittsburgh with a right MCL sprain. SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer is expected to start against the Steelers despite a fractured right thumb.


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